"September's an eternity." - Buck Showalter
In a lot of ways, September feels like it lasts forever. As August concludes, so too does my favorite time of year as those seemingly long summer days grow shorter and shorter. Kids are back in school, the Baltimore humidity begins to subside (it will soon, I promise) and I start to brace myself for the cold winter that will greet us in what seems like a matter of days.
I don't think Buck Showalter was talking about my animosity towards the 30-day month that took away my summer, but rather the the length of time in which the Orioles can make up ground in their quest to return to the postseason. Either way, he's right. September is indeed an eternity.
At 71-63, the Orioles wrapped up August 8 1/2 games back in the American League East behind the Red Sox and Rays, and four games back in the wild card race. They wake up Sept. 2 at 73-63 and just two games back of a wild card spot after the Rays dropped their fifth straight game. That will certainly help to ease my slight case of seasonal depression.
As the Orioles collectively flip their pet calendars from August to September, it's important for them to only look ahead. They shouldn't look back at the 12-14 August in which they outscored opponents 129-115. They shouldn't think about the previous nine blown saves or 15-24 record in one-run games. Matt Wieters should think only about going 5-for-his-last-9, with three RBIs and a homer and not about his .179/.209/.381 slash line in August. As far as Nate McLouth is concerned, he's hitting .500 (2-for-4) with two runs, three RBIs and homer. That .194/.272/.333 month never even happened.
Who cares about a small sample size? The only thing that matters is climbing out of a two-game hole and returning to the postseason.
A season ago, the Orioles cured my post-summer blues by going 19-9 in September and taking a trip to the postseason for the first time since I was 9. Adam Jones hit .295/.343/.504 with six homers and 14 RBIs. Chris Davis hit .320/.397/.660 with 10 homers and 20 RBIs. McLouth hit .280/.355/.456 with five home runs and nine RBIs.
In all likelihood, it will take a similar performance this season for the Orioles to clinch a postseason berth. Recent history shows that these expectations are not too lofty for the O's. Under Showalter, the Orioles are 50-34 in September and have never had a losing record (14-2 in 2010, 15-13 in 2011, 19-9 in 2012 and 2-0 so far in 2013). Showalter has a career 186-162 record as a big league manager in September.
As for the O's sluggers that stepped up down the stretch last season, here's how they have hit over their careers in the final month of the season:
* Jones: .273/.317/.448
* Davis: .308/.357/.535
* McLouth: .285/.378/.486
It won't be easy, but the Birds are very much in contention for postseason play in back-to-back seasons. For years, all I wanted was for them to be competitive after Labor Day.
My time spent at the pool may be over, but the Orioles continue to keep my summer alive with their longest month of the season. I'm thankful that September is an eternity because its baseball that will continue to connect me to my favorite time of year.
Zach Wilt blogs about the Orioles at Baltimore Sports Report. His views appear here as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.